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  1. #1

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    Default Back to tubes...

    Well, not exactly. I used tubes for most of 2002 to 2008. They just always sounded better to me. Even when I was using my SS amps, I always had to have tubes somewhere in the set up. It made the system sound better, but it always had the ability to add life and soul to the music.

    While I had an all tube set up (cdp, pre, amp), I decided to try a SS cdp and passive pre. I liked the result a lot.

    Then, I heard a gainclone amp at my dealer. I was so impressed with the sound that i bought a pair of gainclone mono blocks. The things they can do with sensitive speakers is just out of this world. They are extremely transparent and don't seem to add anything at all to the music. The sound quality of the cdp and pre really stood out. I couldn't believe the difference gear swapping made with my gainclones. Then I purchased an active pre amp of the same brand. So now I'm running pure solid state. The speed, dynamics, etc was incredible. But I noticed I began to lose interest in 2ch. I thought I just needed a break. But no. I just didn't spend as much time anymore and listening for more than 15 mins was rare. When I had tubes I was able to listen for hours at a time.
    So I started playing around with speaker placement for a while with no improvement. It drove me nuts. I couldn't figure out why I couldn't enjoy my tunes anymore. The system sounded awesome but something was missing. The music didn't touch me the way it used to.

    So two nights ago, I decided to disconnect the Rega Apollo and use my Original CD-A8T tube cd player. WHAM!! Instantly, even before the tubes fully warmed up It hit me. Everything I love about music and 2ch came right back. Complete euphoria. I listened for more than 2 hours straight with a big smile on my face. Did the same thing the following night and doing that again tonight. Like I mentioned before, the gain clones are so transparent, it felt like I was listening to a 12AU7 amp. Those are the output tubes in the cdp. I'm very farmiliar with the sound characteristics of the 12AU7 tubes because I rolled them for years in diferent gear. It felt like the amps and pre are not even there. Sounds like a pure tube system.

    Soon I will be talking to my dealer about building me a tube buffer based on my favorite output tube, the 300B. I'm very excited about getting one built.

    I don't know what it is, but it seems like having tubes, whether it's an all tube set up or SS with tubes somewhere in the chain does pure magic to the music.

    I'm so happy to be enjoying my system again:).

    I'd like to know why YOU need tubes in your set up? Doesn't matter if you're running all tubes or tubes/SS.
    Last edited by organ; 01-23-2009 at 01:06 AM.
    CD Player: Original CD-A8T
    Pre: Antique Sound Lab Passive T1-X DT
    Amp: NAD C270
    Speakers: B&W DM6
    "I would rather have a cup of tone than an ocean of power" **Dr. Harvey Rosenberg**

  2. #2

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    Yep. Gotta have tubes somewhere in the mix. I have tube monoblock amps, a tube CDP, and a passive pre. There was a huge difference in sound quality when I went from SS amps to tube amps. Tubes simply make music sound more natural -- no doubt about it. And you've got the added benefit of customizing the sound to your preferences with tube rolling. Why bother with SS?
    HT/2-channel Rig: Sony 50” LCD TV; Toshiba HD-A2 DVD player; Emotiva LMC-1 pre/pro; Rogue Audio M-120 monoblocks (modded); Placette RVC; Emotiva LPA-1 amp; Bada HD-22 tube CDP (modded); VMPS Tower II SE (fronts); DIY Clearwave Dynamic 4CC (center); Wharfedale Opus Tri-Surrounds (rear); and VMPS 215 sub

    "God grooves with tubes."

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by organ View Post
    I'd like to know why YOU need tubes in your set up?
    I don't :p

    I've had tubed pre, CDP, amp, but am happy with my all SS rig now.

    Sometime I do want to try some very efficient speakers with low watts tubes; maybe some horns? Not sure, but will do it.

    Glad you're enjoying your system.
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  4. #4

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    I was running all SS for most of my audio life. I was happy. Then I got a tube CDP. I was happier. Much warmer sound with more depth. Then I got a tube pre. I was estatic. The music just came to life. My experience is that the more of those little glass & wire valves you introduce, the better the sound. It will be awhile before I replace my Silver 9t's with tube blocks, but it is gonna happen one of these days. Those dang tubes are addictive.
    Lots of Carver stuff and a pair of LSi9's

  5. #5

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    With my newley aquired 1C's,I was pushing them with a Dodd MLP and an Anthem Amp 1 (40 watt EL-34 output tubes)I thought that it would sound pretty good, but the synergy not only surprised me, but others as well,who have better ears tham I.At the time I was using an old Rotel 855, as my Ah! Njoe, was dead in the water.Tubes are almost addicting,I like the midrange,bloom for lack of a better word,it's just less "edgy",just much nicer to/on the ears.
    JC approves....he told me so. (F-1 nut)

  6. #6

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    I'm almost 60 now and I grew up on the tubes. Dynaco and Altec. They were affordable then on my military pay.
    In the early 80's I went to the "New Thing" SS. I literally spent thousands of dollars trying to get the "perfect" sound.
    It never came though I had several very good systems that would kick some serious Rocking A.. and blow out the windows.
    I mistakenly thought loud and clear was a good substitute for listening until I went back to tubes.
    I've spent very little money on my system since I went back to the hot glowing glass. I missed the tube sound.
    The musical qualities are lifelike again and I can listen all day and night without the fatigue and ear ringing. The volume levels for listening are back to a managable level with full reproduction.
    The quality of good tube gear now being brought back is second to none.
    I do find though if I want to listen to "Live Concert" DVD's etc I'll crank out some loud pounding SS. But for pure reproduction in the music I prefer to listen to I'll take tubes anyday.
    I guess a lot of it depends on the style of music I'm listening to. It's hard to reproduce all types of music and no one system will ever be the "Perfect" system.

  7. #7

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    Have a tube pre,CDP in the mix...In the market for a tube amp. at the moment.

    I enjoy the sound that tubes bring to the ear...very involving and almost emotional.
    SDA CRS+4.1TL's/Modded SDA 1C's/Modded SDA SRS 3.1 TL's/Modded SDA SRS 2.3TL

  8. #8

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    The reason you need tubes is reelly quite elemental.

    Tubes Rule.

    RT1
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    Everthing Matters...Tubes Rule...and It's Over until it's Not Over

  9. #9

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    Yes Tedwick, tubes DO rule. You beat me to it.
    In search of accurate reproduction of music. Real sound is my reference and while perfection may not be attainable? If I chase it, I might just catch excellence.

    "The best way to enjoy digital music reproduction is to never listen to good analogue reproduction". - Kenneth Swauger

  10. #10

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    you should take a break from your neighbor Tom, come on down and hear the new Shed stuff, leave you with more tears than baby stuck on a cold porch with a red bottom.

    I heard you got a Jolida and are considering a very nice integrated I might know a bit about.......

    RT1
    REEL TIME THEATRE
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    Everthing Matters...Tubes Rule...and It's Over until it's Not Over

  11. #11

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    Glad to hear you are back in the groove.

    I needs tubes cause I likes how it sounds in my system. Currently have tube digital, phono stage and pre with SS amps. I have owned/tried the typical audio tube type gear, but found I prefer the 5687 tube and its variants. I get neutral sound while still retaining the 3D soundstaging and the holographic imaging of tubes. I can play it soft or hearing loss loud.

    I have had all tube systems with mixed results. It all depends on how much and what type of distortion each component has and when it occurs. Yes, even tube gear can have odd order harmonics. And maybe, you can have too much of a good thang.

    I’ve had some nice all SS gear, but it wasn’t for me. I think Ricardo got bumped on his head or got assimilated by SS aliens.:p:D
    Make yourself necessary to someone. Ralph Waldo Emerson

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  12. #12

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    Ugh. I've never heard tube anything.

    Maybe ignorance is bliss?
    "Wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then." Bob Seger

  13. #13

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    I must say tubes do add a different flavor into the mix. I had a CJ PV14L2 tube pre for awhile & I did enjoy it. I've since moved on & am quite happy staying all SS. Who knows, maybe down the road I'll get the urge to try another tube pre. I wouldn't go as far as to say that tubes rule though! :)
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  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by SCompRacer View Post
    I think Ricardo got bumped on his head or got assimilated by SS aliens.:p:D
    Or maybe I just like simple; leave on always, or turn on and listen right away.
    Know that the rig will always sound the same (which can be good with all SS, mind you). No more "something seems to sound different today; maybe one of the 18 tubes in the system is going south?......hmmmmmm...which one? Let me change the pre's tubes...no that didn't work; is the bias right?".... You know, for an anal person like me this can be annoying.

    Don't say you don't know what I am talking about ;)
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  15. #15

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    No tubes for me...been there...done that...SS all the way at the present.

    Tubes rule for Big Ted. Ted is cool...tubes rule...so tubes must be cool.

    I however...don't need tubes to be cool.

    One day I may go back to tubes...or maybe not.
    Y'all enjoy your tubes or whatever you got.

    I do.
    "Just because you’re offended doesn’t mean you’re right." - Ricky Gervais

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  16. #16

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    So you say and so do I
    but y'all know I never lie
    No tubes ShackDaddy you might be cool
    but without tubes your Rig won't rule

    I went home for one hour today
    heard the Shed calling my name
    flicked the switch saw the glow
    just one minute tubes biased and ready to go

    That Tubes Rule is just a fact
    Chips of Sand are just that
    SS may be quick and give some slam
    But believing in it is just a sham

    RT1
    REEL TIME THEATRE
    Onkyo-TX-NR5007
    B&K 7270 amplifier
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    OppO BDP-83
    Pioneer Elite 50"
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    HTS5000


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    Everthing Matters...Tubes Rule...and It's Over until it's Not Over

  17. #17

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    For the tube crowd above,

    Could someone explain the following for me. Though I have just a handful of posts on this Polk site I have tons on other sites. Back in the 70's a friend of mine had a tube amp rated 65 watts per channel with those VU meters on the front. That amp drove a rather large set of speakers (I can't remember the brand) but they were huge, soft dome tweeter, plastic coated midrange, 10" coated woofer, and 10" flat passive radiator.

    That amp could power those speakers 'louder' than a solid state receiver rated an 'honest' 130 watt/channel or twice the tube amps power? The SS amp was rated from 20-20K RMS at 8 ohms with no more than .008 % THdistortion. Not sure about the tube amp. Think it was an old Kenwood?

    Are tube amps inherently more powerful? Do they have more head-room or what. What's going on here? Or am I just carzy?

    cnh

  18. #18

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    I am a total tube advocate as they are very musical to my ears.I try to choose the least euphonic ,most balanced across the musical spectrum tube varients of a given tube type and find that these types of tubes sound good with a wide variety of music ;)
    JAS Audio Bravo 2.3 SE Single ended Class A Tube Integrated Amplifier Svetlana 6C33-B triodes @ 18 wpc-Eastern Electric MiniMax DAC W-LME49990 op amps w Siemens 12AU7 -Black Cat Morpheus cables -Silverline Audio Sonata III

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by cnh View Post
    For the tube crowd above,

    Could someone explain the following for me. Though I have just a handful of posts on this Polk site I have tons on other sites. Back in the 70's a friend of mine had a tube amp rated 65 watts per channel with those VU meters on the front. That amp drove a rather large set of speakers (I can't remember the brand) but they were huge, soft dome tweeter, plastic coated midrange, 10" coated woofer, and 10" flat passive radiator.

    That amp could power those speakers 'louder' than a solid state receiver rated an 'honest' 130 watt/channel or twice the tube amps power? The SS amp was rated from 20-20K RMS at 8 ohms with no more than .008 % THdistortion. Not sure about the tube amp. Think it was an old Kenwood?

    Are tube amps inherently more powerful? Do they have more head-room or what. What's going on here? Or am I just carzy?

    cnh

    You may be "crazy," but you're not "carzy.":p

    I can't give you a technical explanation, but the unofficial rule of thumb is tubes watt are double a solid state watt. So if you have a 50 watt tube amp, it's roughly equivalent to 100 SS watts. Not sure how true it really is, but tube watts are definitely more "powerful" than SS watts. Sure, some idiot is gonna respond to my post by saying, "a watt is a watt." And I'll reply by saying -- "wattever!";)


    Here's an example: I had a 150-watt Odyssey Stratos SS amp and replaced it with a 60-watt tube amp. The tube amp played just as loudly as the SS amp.

    Also keep in mind that tube amps sound cleaner at louder levels.
    HT/2-channel Rig: Sony 50” LCD TV; Toshiba HD-A2 DVD player; Emotiva LMC-1 pre/pro; Rogue Audio M-120 monoblocks (modded); Placette RVC; Emotiva LPA-1 amp; Bada HD-22 tube CDP (modded); VMPS Tower II SE (fronts); DIY Clearwave Dynamic 4CC (center); Wharfedale Opus Tri-Surrounds (rear); and VMPS 215 sub

    "God grooves with tubes."

  20. #20
    Stronzo
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    There needs no debate, tube's are great!
    So don't and wait, get yours today!


    EarlyB is going to have to roll his eyes, because a watt is a watt - be it produced from a solid state transistor or a piece of glowing glass. Measure the SPL of either device when outputting 1 watt, and you'll get the same thing. The differences you hear in regards to "clean output" has more to do with the way tubes handle distortion. When solid state clips, it sounds like crapola. When tubes clip, they don't sound nearly as bad. In fact, some even enjoy the sound (whether or not they realize its the distortion that they are enjoying). Eventually, if you press a tube hard enough, it too will sound like crapola - it just takes the tube a bit more to get it to that point. This gives the faux impression of the tube being 'twice as powerful' as its solid state counter-part.

    Even at medium volumes, huge dynamic peaks (like the crescendo of an orchestral piece) can demand a lot of current from an output device. Often times these dynamics will strain the amplifier and send it into clipping for brief periods of time - even if the main volume is kept at a reasonable level. Because tubes handle distortion well, they will - as said above: "sound cleaner at louder levels".

    Personally, I like tubes for the sound they make, versus the power they deliver.

  21. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zero View Post
    EarlyB is going to have to roll his eyes, because a watt is a watt - be it produced from a solid state transistor or a piece of glowing glass.

    Wattever!!!!:p
    HT/2-channel Rig: Sony 50” LCD TV; Toshiba HD-A2 DVD player; Emotiva LMC-1 pre/pro; Rogue Audio M-120 monoblocks (modded); Placette RVC; Emotiva LPA-1 amp; Bada HD-22 tube CDP (modded); VMPS Tower II SE (fronts); DIY Clearwave Dynamic 4CC (center); Wharfedale Opus Tri-Surrounds (rear); and VMPS 215 sub

    "God grooves with tubes."

  22. #22
    Stronzo
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    Bah, don't you have an entire system to replace? :) :D

  23. #23

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    Don't say you don't know what I am talking about ;)
    You have some valid points regarding tube gear and I respect your choice. But I found my sound after the Signature Edition with phono stage upgrade back in ’07, just before the Chicagoland PF. I still have the same digital source and pre amp I brought there.

    Ever since a freak lightning ground strike that occurred in December a couple of year’s back that caused thousands of dollars in damage, I don’t leave any of my tube or SS gear plugged in when I am not listening. I treat it like SS gear, and live with the 20 minutes or so to go from 90 to 100%.

    Biasing left with the last tube amp I owned. I did have one output tube fail in the pre amp shortly after our Chicago PF, which Brendan at TubeWorld replaced under warranty. Because of that, I keep tubes that I rolled as spares. I still have the same missile tubes in my digital source, same tubes in the phono stage and tube rectifiers. My tube gear is still as quiet as it was back then; no hiss, no hum.

    In regards to sounding different, I will admit suspecting my system when I play something I never heard before and it doesn’t sound good. To rule out possible equipment failure, I will toss in the old reference standby LP. So far so good; all the bad has been poor recordings. I am still performance orientated and would never tolerate any gear that did not perform optimally every time I used it. We get what we accept.

    Signing off, tubes by choice.
    Make yourself necessary to someone. Ralph Waldo Emerson

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  24. #24

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    A watt is a watt, but I would rather have that a tube watt anyday. Tube watts masssage my ears and mind in a better way.
    pre VAC Standard LE, power VAC PA100/100 phi upgrade, analog Origin Live Aurora Mk2, Origin Live Encounter Mk3c, Benz Ebony H, digital Lector 0.6t, speakers Thiel CS2.4, Rel Strata III, cables Audience AU24 e IC, Audience AU24 e SC, power Audience aR1p, Audience aR2p, Audience PowerCord e

  25. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by george daniel View Post
    With my newley aquired 1C's,I was pushing them with a Dodd MLP and an Anthem Amp 1 (40 watt EL-34 output tubes)I thought that it would sound pretty good, but the synergy not only surprised me, but others as well,who have better ears tham I.At the time I was using an old Rotel 855, as my Ah! Njoe, was dead in the water.Tubes are almost addicting,I like the midrange,bloom for lack of a better word,it's just less "edgy",just much nicer to/on the ears.
    I'm listening to my newly acquired Steely Dan CD on your player right now:) It's fixed George. Come and get it.
    Ben
    Please. Please contact me a ben62670 @ yahoo.com. Make sure to include who you are, and you are from Polk so I don't delete your email. Also I am now physically unable to work on any projects. If you need help let these guys know. There are many people who will help if you let them know where you are.
    Thanks
    Ben

  26. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by reeltrouble1 View Post
    So you say and so do I
    but y'all know I never lie
    No tubes ShackDaddy you might be cool
    but without tubes your Rig won't rule

    I went home for one hour today
    heard the Shed calling my name
    flicked the switch saw the glow
    just one minute tubes biased and ready to go

    That Tubes Rule is just a fact
    Chips of Sand are just that
    SS may be quick and give some slam
    But believing in it is just a sham

    RT1
    HAHAHAHHA ROFL LOL! HAHAHHAH

    I don't fully understand the concept of tubes but it seems as tho they are straight amps per speaker and require a pre-amp of some kind. I am a noob tube explorer and wish to learn more.
    I just upgraded my M10a's XOs with quality stuff and planned to upgrade to a "real" "receiver" later this year but I see now I have much to learn.

    The above poem has me convinced more than 10 dozen NYC buses with the same ad. A tubing I will go. Any noob advice on setups is appreciated.

  27. #27

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    Whoa! Excellent response. I didn't expect to get so much replies.
    So it looks like we all like tubes for the same reason, that is, some sought after qualities they're able to add or restore in music.
    The thing I love most about tubes is the bloom and smoothness from the upper bass to the highs. I just can't get that when I run pure SS.

    So far it looks like tubes are making a big come back. The Blackburn factory that used to produce tubes under the Mullard name is once again back into tube production. The specs on the new tubes look very promising and should be an excellent alternative to pricey NOS. Also, Reflektor (makers of Sovtek, EH) are making a lot of new tubes under the old names they purchased like Tung-Sol, Mullard, Genelex, etc. Western Electric have purchased Ei according to their website, and now, it looks like we have more tube gear then the "golden age". Hell, they even have iPod tube docks. The future for tube audio is looking very good.

    The only hard part is finding the tube type with sound characteristics you like most. So far I feel like the 300B is my number 1, followed by the 2A3, EL34 and KT77.

    What are your favorites?
    CD Player: Original CD-A8T
    Pre: Antique Sound Lab Passive T1-X DT
    Amp: NAD C270
    Speakers: B&W DM6
    "I would rather have a cup of tone than an ocean of power" **Dr. Harvey Rosenberg**

  28. #28

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    I love tubes...

    Don`t think I could ever go back
    Cary SLP-98L F1 DC Pre Amp (Jag Blue)
    Parasound HCA-3500
    Cary Audio V12 amp (Jag Red)
    Polk Audio Xm Reciever (Autographed by THE MAN Himself)
    Magnum Dynalab MD-102 Analog Tuna
    Jolida JD-100 CDP
    Polk Audio LSi9 Speaks (ebony)
    SVS PC-Ultra Sub
    AQ Bedrock Speaker Cables (Bi-Wired)
    MIT Shotgun S1 I/C`s
    AQ Black Thunder Sub Cables
    PS Audio Plus Power Cords
    Magnum Dynalab ST-2 FM Antenna
    Sanus Cherry wood Speak Stands
    Adona AV45CS3 / 3 Tier Rack (Black /Gold)



  29. #29

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    As soon as I get back on my feet, TUBES will be back in da house.

    Voltage -vs- current
    odd harmonics -vs- even harmonics
    "SOME PEOPLE CALL ME MAURICE,
    CAUSE I SPEAK OF THE POMPITIOUS OF LOVE"

  30. #30

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    So far,,I'm gonna have to say EL -34,,, but I do not have much experience with the others,,, yet;)
    JC approves....he told me so. (F-1 nut)

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